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Katsina, firm at war over N66.2b Paris Club refund

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High Court

Mauritz Walton Nigeria Limited has dragged Katsina State government before the Federal High Court, Abuja, over the state’s alleged failure to honour its agreement of paying the firm 20 per cent of the N66.268 billion from the Paris Club refund.

The financial consulting firm, in the suit now before Justice Inyang Ekwo, claimed that it was appointed by the state through a letter dated August 18, 2014, with reference No: MOF/STAFF/409/1/31, to recover the excess deductions by the federal government from its account to service its external debt between July 1995 and March 2002.

It claimed that the agreement awarded it 20 per cent of the refund after repayment by the federal government.

The chief executive officer, Dr. Maurice Ibe, stated that through his firm’s efforts, it was ascertained that Katsina was entitled to the naira equivalent of the N66.268 billion (at an exchange rate of N305 to a dollar).

Ibe added that his firm’s efforts yielded further results when President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016 directed the payment of the first tranche of the Paris Club refund to states, including Katsina.

He stated that although almost all the money due to Katsina had been paid into the state’s account, it had not got its 20 per cent as agreed.

The plaintiff, whose legal team is led by Wole Olanipekun (SAN), is praying the court for several declaratory reliefs, particularly a declaration that it is entitled to N13.25 billion being 20 per cent of the N66.3 billion refund to Katsina.

It urged the court to order the sum due to it to be paid with 20 per cent interest from October 1, 2018 until judgement and thereafter, and at 10 per cent until the judgement sum is fully paid.

The plaintiff equally seeks N75 million cost against the defendants.

However, all the defendants, including Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the finance minister, have objected to the suit and urged the court to dismiss it on the ground that the plaintiff was not entitled to the reliefs it seeks.

Katsina, in its statement of defence, agreed that it engaged the plaintiff in relation to the Paris Club refund, but argued that the firm was not entitled to the 20 per cent it claimed because it failed to meet the conditions contained in the engagement letter.

Justice Ekwo, while adjourning further hearing till October 14, warned parties against dissipating the res (subject of dispute) in the case.


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